On Business and Style: The Gentlewoman’s Code

woman in business suit

I love the idea of living by a code. A strong code defines the type of person you want to be and equips you with finite ways to live that life. To have a code is to stand for something. It is a plan for when there can be no plan–when life gets unpredictable and demanding and improvised badassery is the only option.

The modern gentlewoman is a feminist, a world traveler, a business owner, an artist, a boss, a lover, a risk-taker, a  pleasure seeker, a philanthropist, a leader, a teacher, a friend, a realist with big, ballsy plans. She’s got it together; she runs her life with practical authority, and she’s very good at getting what she wants.

Naturally, she has a code:

  • The gentlewoman is a warrior who charges through life with purpose. Proactive decision making and deliberate action are part of her daily battle strategy. She executes plans with intelligence and fierce determination. She calls bullshit when it happens and counterattacks with an instant grace that is as beautiful as it is lethal. She is always dressed for battle and her style is impeccable.
  • The gentlewoman isn’t concerned with pleasing others or seeking approval–it’s bad for business. She is kind and gracious in life, but she will not conceal her values just to keep a conversation agreeable. She never rushes to assure the person who ran into her because he wasn’t paying attention that “It’s okay.” She is not one to make a change for the sole purpose of gaining someone’s approval either. She demands what is hers and offers apology only when she is truly in the wrong.
  • She does what is necessary to get the job done. She knows that there are no rules but her own rules, and she’s no stranger to figuring things out on her own.
  • There is a forward-moving momentum to her life. She is never stagnant, always working toward the next goal. The gentlewoman sees the value in staying in on a Friday night to get ahead on work that is important to her. She works hard while she’s young so she can afford to work less later in life.
  • She appreciates a good, stiff drink. There’s nothing quite like relaxing with a tumbler of scotch after a long day of entrepreneurial badassery and creative revolution.
  • She deals in uncompromised honesty. She faces even the most painful truths head on because she knows lies and excuses shelter her only from being a greater, more evolved version of herself. Likewise, she’s loath to sugarcoat the truth for others. When a relationship–whether business or personal–isn’t working she ends it cleanly and definitively and moves on. She cuts ties with the sharpest blade and the gentlest truth.
  • A gentlewoman remembers a name when an introduction is made, and thenceforth uses it when speaking with her new acquaintance. There is power to be gained in remembering the name of everyone she meets.
  • She feels gratitude where others feel envy. The gentlewoman doesn’t resent other women for the things they have that she may lack–she’s too busy appreciating what she does have while she works to make the rest of her world better. She knows a woman with, for example, a prestigious job, or an abundance of lovers and admirers, is no more a woman to be envied than to be celebrated. She knows how to rejoice in the success of others while focusing on her own hard work and accomplishments.
  • She possesses the kind of self-assuredness combined with a love of risk taking that follows self-taught independence. She’s not afraid to strike out on her own and see the world at her own pace. She’s learned how to cook a nutritious meal, be on her own in a foreign country, change a light bulb and use a hammer because she understands what worth these skills have to her self-sufficiency.
  • She makes fitness a priority after a fulfilling career and social life. She takes care of her body with exercise and a healthy diet; she runs, swims, boxes or lifts weights for her health, and not as penance for the pizza she ate last night. She can enjoy an indulgent meal and skip a work-out to make a deadline with no hard feelings.
  • She is highly critical of how she spends her time and does not entertain distractions, including procrastination, perfection, uncertainty and jealousy. At any given moment she is either up to something highly productive, like revising her company’s marketing plan to drive up sales, or learning to code, or networking in a hotel bar; or she is doing something awesome, like skydiving, or reclining on the couch with a glass of champagne, a decadent dinner and the next “Game of Thrones” episode.
  • She is thoughtful before she speaks and chooses her words discerningly. She doesn’t complain about trivial inconveniences or toss out a remark  just to fill an uncomfortable silence. Her speech is precise; her words are weighted and measured to exact the greatest amount of control possible. She is not afraid to be bold, provocative or uncensored, but she determines when and where she is transparent. She is in control of her presentation, and therefore, the situation.
  • A gentlewoman holds her head high and her back straight. She could fill a room with her regal posture and dignified confidence.
  • She understands the importance of outward appearance and style. Wherever she is, she’s dressed with purpose. She has dedicated time to discovering a precise sense of style that works for her and she now wears her own version of class and sophistication. She evokes power in a pair of running shoes just as well as in a pair of expensive black pumps.
  • A gentlewoman is not perfect, and she does not strive to be perfect. She knows that to put perfection on a pedestal is to stunt her truth and creative edge. She knows that perfection is not an end result worth the effort it takes to achieve. She does not allow its pursuit to get in the way of her quest to make art, accept power and have fun.

photo credit: carbonated via photopin cc

How To Order A Manhattan Like You Mean It

 

Manhattan cocktailA Manhattan is sophisticated, strong and classic. The drink itself commands respect, and in turn so does the person consuming it. It is a more fun version of straight whiskey, which I highly recommend as a drink when you mean business, for reasons which have already been explained quite well. A Manhattan is both business and pleasure. It is an assertion of a very distinguished, particular taste and I recommend ordering it often and with authority.

Our level of confidence at the bar probably has a lot to do with how knowledgeable we feel about our drink options, and I’m willing to bet there are a lot of people who are missing out on the pleasure and power of a Manhattan simply because they don’t know what it is or if they will like it.

When you order any drink, you are negotiating power and reputation. Like what you wear, your drink choice says something about who you are to those observing you. The bad ass factor in ordering a Manhattan is magnified when you’re able to order with confidence.

So here’s how to order a Manhattan like you mean it:

First, learn how the drink is made.

If you’ve enjoyed a Manhattan made by your own hand at home before, you are not only a drinker of the classic cocktail, you are a maker. You now possess a unique skill. Imagine coming home from a tiring day of work and reclining on the couch with a Manhattan made to your liking in one hand and a book in the other. That is classy as hell and you know it.

A Manhattan is traditionally comprised of rye whiskey (though bourbon is also acceptable as a southern variation on the original recipe), sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters and a maraschino cherry for garnish.

To make a Manhattan, you will need:

Ingredients
1.5 oz rye whiskey or bourbon
0.5 oz sweet vermouth
A few dashes of Angostura bitters
a cherry for garnish (maraschino is traditional but I prefer the more modern use of marinated cherries)

Equipment
Mixing glass
Cocktail strainer
Bar spoon (any long spoon will do the trick)
shot glass or jigger
Cocktail glass

With a few ice cubes already in your mixing glass, combine whiskey, vermouth and bitters. Stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add a cherry for garnish.

You’ve just made an expert Manhattan.

Now you’re ready to order.

The degree to which I can be particular about my order is another reason I love this drink. There’s something distinctly pleasurable about knowing your drink well enough to tell the bartender your brand preference (Bulleit? Knob Creek?) and whether you’ll take your Manhattan on the rocks or up (with or without ice, respectively.)

Bulleit Manhattan, up.

I encourage you to experiment with bases (rye or bourbon) and brands until you’ve identified a favorite. Try the drink up and on the rocks at least once as well. The more research you put into your preferred drink the more you’ll own it every time you order.

Consider trying one of these variations on a Manhattan as well:

Dry Manhattan – sweet vermouth is swapped out for dry vermouth and the drink is garnished with a lemon twist instead of a cherry

Perfect Manhattan – the same amount of vermouth is used, with equal parts dry and sweet

It’s about that simple. Have a bad ass happy hour today.